This paper reflects on ways in which intergenerational familial experience of the Japanese American World War II mass incarceration may have differentially affected the ethnic and racial identity development of multiracial Sansei (third generation Japanese Americans). I begin with a brief review of the literature related to the effects of the camps on Nisei, integrating psychological understandings of racial and ethnic identity development, contextual history, and research on the psychological effects; I focus here on effects for Nisei that have been connected to their intergenerational interactions: distancing from Japanese American heritage and identity, silence about the camp experience, and the negotiation of racism and discrimination. I turn then to the primary focus of the paper: Using a combination of autoethnographical reflection, examples from qualitative interviews, and literature review, I engage in reflective exploration of two ways in which intergenerational effects of the camp experience influenced Sansei racial and ethnic identities that vary among monoracial and multiracial Sansei: familial transmission of Japanese American culture by Nisei to Sansei, and the intergenerational effects and transmission of racial discrimination and racial acceptance. I conclude with reflections on intergenerational healing within Japanese American families and communities, and reflections on the relation of these dynamics to current issues of racial justice more generally.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited